The Marvel Cinematic Universe may sometimes seem infinite — like, say, when you learn that 68 characters will appear in Avengers: Infinity War — but it has its limits. Though Disney-owned Marvel Studios has the film rights to most Marvel comics characters, Sony controls Spider-Man, and Fox is home to the X-Men, Deadpool, and the Fantastic Four. When the Deadpool creative team decided to use Negasonic Teenage Warhead, the complexities of these arrangements became apparent when it turned out Marvel had a veto. Luckily for all, the Disney side was willing to make a deal, which conveniently smoothed over a potential Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 snafu with Fox.
Deadpool co-screenwriter Paul Wernick told the tale at a special screening and Q&A this past weekend for the Ryan Reynolds blockbuster at Fox Studios in L.A. He explained that the Deadpool team was allowed to choose supporting characters from a list of hundreds of X-Men characters that Fox owns. After picking the metal-skinned Russian immigrant Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) as a “foil” to Deadpool, they zeroed in on Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) because they loved her name. But the character’s actual powers — in the comics, she’s psychic, rather than creating explosions — didn’t jibe with their vision. So they had to go to Marvel for permission to make the change. Marvel agreed if, in return, Fox was willing to loan them Ego the Living Planet (a literal sentient planet, to be played by Kurt Russell) from its roster for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
That swap worked out perfectly for Guardians writer-director James Gunn, who apparently wrote a major role for Ego the Living Planet in his sequel (he’s Peter Quill’s father!) without realizing that Marvel didn’t own the rights.
“Yes, this is true!” Gunn wrote yesterday on his Facebook page. “When I first pitched Ego as Quill’s father, I THOUGHT we owned the character. After I had worked out a very elaborate story with Ego the Living Planet as a very important part of the Marvel cosmic universe, I learned that we actually didn’t own the character. I had no back up plan, and it would be nearly impossible to just drop another character in. Thank God Fox came to us and wanted to make a trade.”
In an interview with Yahoo Movies this month, screenwriter Ashley Miller (Thor, X-Men: First Class) described the differences in the Fox and Marvel superhero universes.
“The most important thing to remember is that Marvel has a ton of properties, while Fox’s bread and butter in the superhero movie business is the X-Men. So when you play in [Fox’s] sandbox, you’re playing in the entire sandbox, as opposed to Marvel where you’re working in one corner of their sandbox,” Miller said. “Also, Marvel releases two movies a year, while Fox releases one X-Men movie every two years, so the risks are higher. There’s a lot riding on every single X-Men film.”
Last year, Marvel brokered a deal with Sony to include Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War.
‘Guardians 2’ Cast and Crew Reveal What’s New in the Sequel: